Why The Ellinikon In Athens Could Become Another European Superstar Destination

Situated on a hill that one can leisurely stroll up in less than 10 minutes, the Acropolis of Athens is a UNESCO World Heritage site that draws tourists from all over the world. They come in droves, wanting to see for themselves monuments dating back to the 5th century BC, such as the Parthenon, Erechtheon, Propylaea, and a relatively small temple just off to the side for Athena Nike. The Acropolis is the heart of the city and the soul of its denizens; such is its importance that there are laws in place stating that no building can be built taller than it. There was even widespread public outcry when a 10-storey hotel was going to be constructed a stone’s throw away from the Acropolis. This is why everything, from homes and hotels to offices and commercial spaces, is low-rise all over Athens.

But in May, construction and development began on the 49-storey Riviera Tower, designed by the prestigious Foster+Partners firm and located just 15km away from the Acropolis. In isolation, this may seem like an affront to Greek culture and society, but a wider understanding is key—6.2 million sqm wide, in fact. 

The Ellinikon is an €8 billion urban regeneration project covering an area three times larger than Monaco. At its heart will be the 2 million sqm Ellinikon Park, larger than London’s Hyde Park, and featuring 30km of cycling lanes and 50km of pathways and 1 million trees. It also boasts 3.5km of prime coastline and beach areas, as well as the aforementioned Riviera Tower (which was able to be developed thanks to a change in the law), a shopping mall with 90,000sqm of lettable space, luxury boutiques, two luxury hotels, an integrated casino resort, a 310-berth marina, 1.2 million sqm worth of residential developments, offices for more than 25,000 workers, world-class sporting facilities, two existing Metro stations, a centre for persons with disabilities, schools and more. The Ellinikon is touted as a 15-minute smart and sustainable city within a city, in which a 15-minute walk or cycle is all it’ll take to get one to the shops, work, school, the park or the beach.

Lamda Development, the leading real estate developer in Greece, is the driving force behind The Ellinikon. Its portfolio includes Athens highlights such as The Mall Athens (the first and largest shopping centre in Greece), Golden Hall and Athens Olympic Museum, as well as Mediterranean Cosmos in Thessaloniki, the largest shopping centre in northern Greece. Lamda acquired the site of Athens’ former international airport—totalling 6.2 million sqm—in June 2021. It has also secured full financing that will go towards the first phase of The Ellinikon’s development, which runs until 2026 (The Ellinikon is expected to be fully completed in 2037), totalling €1.2 billion.

Foster+Partners has been assigned to oversee the master design plan of The Ellinikon, while other globally prestigious firms such as Aedas, Bjarke Ingels Group, Kengo Kuma and Sasaki are leading various projects and developments within. Buyers’ interest has already begun and continues to pick up steam as €1.2 billion worth of sales contracts have already been signed. These include units in the residential areas of Riviera Tower, beachfront Cove Villas and Cove Residences, Vouliagmenis Mall and Riviera Galleria. The Ellinikon is expected to welcome 1 million visitors per year, with 40,000 residents and 75,000 new jobs created as a result.

Recently, Robb Report visited the Experience Park and Experience Centre within The Ellinikon. The Centre has been built inside a refurbished aircraft hangar, which used to belong to the former Athens International Airport. Guests are welcome to the Centre to view showrooms, learn firsthand about the comprehensive sustainability initiatives that will be implemented all over The Ellinikon, experience a simulated bicycle ride through Ellinikon Park or even enjoy a cup of coffee at leisure. Gathered media also toured work-in-progress sites such as the Riviera Tower, Poseidonos Underpass, marina, and the 11,000 sqm centre for persons with disabilities. Built in just one year, the centre can house up to 300 people and has been handed back to the municipality of Elliniko. 

Back at the Experience Centre, members of the media sat down with Odisseas Athanasiou, CEO of Lamda Development, to dive deeper into the progress of not only The Ellinikon but also of Greece. “We believe that Greece is on the opposite end of the spectrum of where we were 10 to 15 years ago, when the crisis happened and bankruptcy put the country on its edge for 10 years,” says Athanasiou, who has been Lamda’s CEO for more than 15 years. “Now, we have become the darling of the markets. Our GDP has grown by more than two or three times compared to the average European GDP. The numbers in the tourism area are better than ever, the private sector has grown a lot, and we’re lucky to have a government in the past four or five years that has been the most pro-business government we’ve ever experienced. This makes us optimistic about the future and, of course, The Ellinikon is very closely related to the country’s prospects.”

Besides Greece’s steadily improving economy, its weather is also another huge draw for The Ellinikon, Athanasiou says. With 10 months of sunny, beautiful weather, one will be able to enjoy a riviera lifestyle in The Ellinikon. In addition, its central location—25 minutes from the airport, 20 minutes from the Acropolis and close by to multiple sea ports such as the Piraeus port—and its gorgeous coastline areas, Metro stations and existing infrastructure all point towards The Ellinikon becoming the new heart of Athens, Greece and perhaps Europe. All this has led to investments pouring in from all over the world, with 75 per cent of The Ellinikon’s residential offerings bought domestically, according to Athanasiou. 

“The Ellinikon’s unique selling proposition is that it offers everything in one package. If you don’t want to use it only as an investment, then it is a unique place to live,” Athanasiou says. “You can have your privacy, you can be close to the beach as well as one of the nicest and largest parks in the world. Perhaps there could be many places around the world that offer interactive natural beauty like in The Ellinikon, but here you can enjoy it any time you want. You can go for a swim or you can walk in the park, and it’s going to be sunny, 20 to 25 degrees, most of the time. It’s not going to be raining and it’s not going to be humid. 

“So, everything that constitutes a city—the marina, hotels, shopping destinations, residences, the park, sports venues—is going to be here. Combine everything and you see why we’re so passionate for The Ellinikon. We call it ‘the art of living’ and we believe it is going to be a new paradigm for living.”

The Ellinikon

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